Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome: Symptoms Of Mitral Valve Prolapse

Mitral valve prolapse syndrome may be associated with migraine headache symptoms.

Like migraine, mitral valve prolapse or MVP is common in women under the age of 60 and seems to be less common in the elderly. 12-16% of women in their 20's and 30's have MVP whereas only 3% of elderly women have it. For men, the condition is about 3-5% across all ages.

The cause of MVP is unknown but in addition to migraine, it is also associated with other heart conditions such as atrial septal defects and coronary artery disease. There is some thought that it may be genetic as it seems to run in some families.

What Is Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome?

First of all, the mitral valve is in the heart and receives oxygenated blood directly from the lungs through the left atrium, the chamber above it. The contraction of the atrium causes the blood to be pushed through the valve into the left ventricle. Named after a bishop's mitre or hat, the valve has two leaves with muscles attached to it that assist in moving the blood by pulling the valve open.

The American Heart Association describes mitral valve prolapse as “(when) one or both flaps (of the mitral valve) are enlarged and some of their supporting strings are too long. So, when the heart contracts or pumps, the mitral valve flaps do not close smoothly or evenly. Instead, part of one or both flaps collapse backward into the left atrium. This sometimes allows a small amount of blood to leak backward through the valve”.

mitral valve prolapse syndrome

Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome Symptoms

Mitral valve prolapse is diagnosed by a doctor or practioner listening to your heart for specific sounds consistent with MVP. It also has characteristic markings on an EKG but diagnosis is confirmed with an echocardiogram, which is a sonogram of the heart.

The symptoms of mitral valve prolapse include:

  • Shortness of breath on exertion
  • Palpitations
  • Chest pain that comes and goes
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • anxiety and panic
  • migraine headaches
Up to 60% of people with mitral valve prolapse syndrome do not have symptoms and don't even know that they have it! One of the ways it is uncovered is when someone starts to become short of breath of lightheaded with aerobic exercise, when previously there were no problems exercising. At this point if symptomatic, you should tell your doctor and consider seeing a cardiologist.

The treatment for this condition is fairly straightforward. Here is full information about mitral valve diagnosis and treatment.

Although MVP is associated with migraine, see if you have other different types of headaches.

Finally, keep in mind that there are other cardiovascular conditions that could cause headache. The most common is the high blood pressure headache but headaches may also start just before, during or after stroke symptoms.

Mitral Valve Prolapse Diagnosis

Mitral valve prolapse diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms and the results of tests. Remember, up to 60% of men and women with mitral valve prolapse have no symptoms as the prolapse is so mild. But how do we make the diagnosis?

Finding A Prolapse

First of all, a doctor will do a cardiac exam on you and listen for specific sounds through a stethoscope. The characteristic sound of an MVP is a "clicking" at the lower left sternal border. Just about where the tip of the heart is located is where the sound radiates to and is heard the loudest.

The clicking sound may be intensified by what is called a "valsava maneuver". This is where the doctor may ask you to push your hands together and bear down. This pushes a little more blood through the valve and makes the clicking louder.

If your doctor suspects a valve problem, he or she most probably will order an echocardiogram. This is a sonogram of the heart and is non-invasive. It takes only a few minutes to perform and can get a look at the heart while it is functioning. In this way, if there is a prolapse, it can be seen as there will be some regurtitation or back flow from the valve up in the atrium. An echocardiogram confirms a mitral valve prolapse diagnosis.

Treatment Of A Mitral Valve Prolapse

Treatment depends on the severity of the regurtitation across the valve. If mild with few symptoms usually nothing is done. If moderate, with significant regurgitation, precautions should be taken. Some patients with mitral valve prolapse syndrome may be put on a blood thinner such as aspirin or even Plavix if the cardiologist thinks it is necessary. Antibiotics must be taken before invasive procedures, including dental work. The reason is to avoid a strep infection of the heart.

With severe problems, the left atrium may become enlarged due to chronic regurtitation. At this point, with symptoms of shortness of breath that is problematic, a valve replacement may be recommended.

Remember, although MVP is associated with migraine, see if you have other different types of headaches.

Sign up for the monthly Headache-Adviser Newsletter for updates on research and new treatments.

Enter your E-mail Address

Enter your First Name (optional)


Don't worry -- your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you the monthly Headache-Adviser Newsletter.

Return From Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome To Home Page Headache Adviser


types of headaches

Visit the Headache Adviser Store for migraine books, neck pain pillows and more!

bad headache

Complete Blog Roll and RSS feed.

Sign up for the RSS feed..it's free!

Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Add to Google

Protected by Copyscape Online Plagiarism Test

| Homepage |Written by | Privacy Policy | Medical Disclaimer|

Copyright© 2007-2012 Information Enterprises, LLC. The information on this website is for educational purposes only. See your doctor for headache treatment.